REV. JOHN JACKSON, BELIZE, HONDURAS
(Died December 13, 1888)
Author: Rev. John H. Thomson, Hightae, Lockerbie
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1889, Obituary, p.107
Mr. Jackson was born in Edinburgh, August 2, 1837. He studied in the university of Edinburgh, and attended the usual course of five years’ instruction in the Reformed Presbyterian theological hall, then presided over by Professor William Symington, D.D., and Professor W. H. Goold, D.D. He was licensed in January 1863, and on April 17th was ordained pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian congregation of Girvan. Here he diligently laboured with much acceptance for thirteen years. After the union with the Free Church in May 1876, he was persuaded to accept a call from the Free Church Colonial Committee to take charge of the congregation of Belize, the chief town in the British settlement of Honduras.
Mr. Jackson arrived at Belize, 12th November 1876. He at once threw himself into his work. His quarterly reports, regularly transmitted to the Colonial Committee, give full evidence of the zeal and faithfulness with which his pastoral duties were performed. Last year, on account of health, and a desire to give his family the benefit of education in this country, he resigned his charge, and was waiting until his successor, Rev. John Muckersie, came out to take his place. He had been going about his work with his usual diligence up till the first week of December, when he had what seemed to be a slight attack of fever. He put himself under medical treatment, and appeared to be recovering, when on the morning of the 13th December the disease suddenly assumed a serious form, and medical aid was sent for. Everything was done that the skilled physicians could think of, btut it was of no avail. He rapidly grew feebler, and died very peacefully about 10 a.m. He was buried next day, and the funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Belize. “He was so good,” writes Dr. Gibson of Belize, “so kind, so charitable in all his judgments of his fellow-men, so Christian in the best and highest sense, that I know he commanded the esteem of the whole community, and he showed by his life what a Christian pastor ought to be. Although this is the busiest season of the year, all the business houses, Roman Catholic as well as Protestant, were closed till ten a.m. on the morning of his funeral to mark their sense of the loss the community has sustained by his death.”
REV. WILLIAM JACKSON, AIRDRIE
(Died August 8, 1869)
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, December 1, 1869, p.269
Within seven weeks the Presbytery of Hamilton has been deprived by death of its two oldest members. On Monday the 21st June, as our readers already know, Mr. Buchan of Hamilton died; and on Sabbath the 8th of August, Mr. Jackson died in his pulpit whilst engaged in conducting the forenoon service. For some time he had been suffering from disease of the heart, and was told that in all likelihood his death would be sudden. He had taken very deeply to heart the death of Mr. Buchan, and had several times remarked that as there was now no one either among the ministers of the Presbytery or of the parish who stood betwixt him and the grave, he regarded himself as the nearest to death. But on the morning of the day on which he died he rose in his usual health, and was as cheerful, nay, more so, than ever, and began the services of the sanctuary with all his wonted animation. But he had not proceeded far in his lecture when of a sudden, and in the midst of a very animated illustration, his voice ceased, his arm, which was extended, fell down by his side, and his head began to bend forward on the desk. His son and one or two others rushed up the pulpit-stairs and caught him in their arms. With some difficulty they got him carried into the vestry, but life was gone. The sad and startling intelligence was immediately made known to the congregation, and the church became one scene of weeping and lamentation. It was with difficulty that the people could believe it. Mr. Jackson was a mighty favourite among his people, by reason of his modest and unobtrusive manners, mingled with rare kindliness of heart and high Christian integrity; and it was not to be wondered at that the manse on the afternoon and evening of that solemn Sabbath should have been crowded by relays of weeping friends, who came to take a last fond look at the face that was dead. On the following Thursday he was buried. All the shops were shut, and the whole line of streets through which the funeral passed were thronged by a crowd of awestruck onlookers.
Mr. Jackson was born at Mearns on the 17th January 1805. His father was parochial schoolmaster, and was enabled to give his son a college education. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow to preach the gospel on the 8th November 1832. In 1833 he came to Airdrie as assistant to the Rev. Joseph Finlayson. His services were so acceptable to the people that a number of them resolved to form themselves into a separate charge, and invite him to be their pastor. A church was accordingly built by them, and Mr. Jackson was ordained minister there in May 1835. He remained in the West Church, discharging all the duties of the ministry with great acceptance to a large and prosperous congregation till driven from his church in May 1843. But the people who had loved him so well as to build one church for him were now ready to build another, in which he laboured till his death. And as it is a singular circumstance and worthy of remark, we may mention that he had just completed the twenty-fifth year of his ministry in the Free West Church on the day on which he died.
REV. JOHN JAFFRAY, EDINBURGH
The Home and Foreign Record of the Free Church of Scotland, January, 1859, p.143
The existence of the Record stands connected with the late Rev. John Jaffray. He was for many years the editor, and always the ardent supporter, of this publication. And the following brief notice of Mr Jaffray will, we are persuaded, deeply interest our readers:—
The Rev. John Jaffray, lately deceased, was a probationer of the Church, who, after services successively in Glammis, Dundee, and Paisley, was brought, in the year 1811, to Edinburgh through the instrumentality of the late Dr Welsh, to take charge of the Missionary Schemes of the Church of Scotland; and his zeal, activity, and energy, soon proved how worthy he was of Dr Welsh’s recommendation. His heart was thoroughly in the work; and his faculty of combination, and habits of business, shewed themselves in the prosperity and order of all the schemes with which he was connected. He received ordination from the Presbytery of Edinburgh.
During the struggles for spiritual independence, and for the rights of the people, which preceded the Disruption, he threw himself most effectively into the ranks of those who resisted the State encroachments; and the amount and persistency of his great labours in clerking to the committees, and circulating through the length and breadth of the land those “Communications,” which, showered among the people by thousands, prepared the way for the establishment of the Free Church in due time, will not be forgotten by those who witnessed them, and should not fail to be remembered by any who love the truth. Nor in the hour of trial was he found wanting; for in 1843 he renounced his appointments in the Establishment, and threw in his lot with the people of God who sacrificed their worldly possessions for their Master’s sake. And well do we remember, on reaching the Canonmills’ Assembly Hall, on the memorable 18th May, his appearance as, making his way from bench to bench among the poor devoted ministers, who might well be then burdened in mind as to the sources whence bread should come to their children, he came our length, and said, with a cheerful, earnest air, “Mr. _____, what will you give for the Foreign Missions?” Deeply did we feel at the moment that that Church must prosper, which, in the hour of its own darkest extremity, had faith thus to obey the commandment of its Master. “to go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
In the Free Church, Mr Jaffray was continued in his previous duties, which expanded immensely in his hands. The Missionary Record (now the Home and Foreign Record ) of the Church, and the Children’s Missionary Record, are standing proofs of the sagacity of his schemes. Indeed, in every good work, he was always found willing, active, and efficient to promote the glorious objects which accumulated in every direction. And, accordingly, when under the pressure of this ceaseless work, his health began seriously to fail, the Assembly of 1853 settled an annuity on him, with general approbation in all quarters, which helped to smooth his declining years. He died on 29th October last, leaving a widow behind, who had been always found in the way of well-doing in connexion with the missionary efforts of the ladies of the Free Church, as we trust she will yet long be spared to co-operate with them.
REV. HUGH JAFFREY, HOLYTOWN
(Died February 21, 1881)
Author: Rev. R. S. MacAulay, Irvine
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.280
Mr. Jaffrey was born in Irvine on the 12th November, 1813. He enjoyed the advantage of a good early education, first at the Irvine Academy, and afterwards at a boarding school at Ardoch Cottage, near Dumbarton, under the efficient management of Mr. Bruce, who took a deep interest in the religious training of his pupils, and was wont on Sabbath evenings to question them on the discourses heard at church during the day: this Mr. Jaffrey in after years regarded as most profitable. On leaving school he went to Glasgow, entered the office of his uncle, Mr. Hugh Ferguson, Writer, and attended the Arts Classes in the University. About the age of twenty he was brought powerfully under the influence of divine truth, and to know Christ savingly. He immediately associated himself with a band of pious and devoted young men—a few of whom still survive, and bear testimony to his early zeal and earnest efforts in promoting union for prayer and Christian work. His uncle died in 1835, and for some time Mr. Jaffrey carried on the business. But after much anxious thought and earnest prayer, he resolved to study for the ministry; and with this view he left Glasgow, went to Edinburgh, and became a student in the Divinity Hall of the University. After a course of diligent and laborious study, he was licensed to preach the gospel. At the Disruption he cast in his lot with the Evangelical party, and joined the Free Church. During his probation period he acted as assistant at Ruthwell, and lived with the Rev. Dr. Henry Duncan, whose philanthropic and highly Christian character made a deep and life influencing impression on his young assistant. For a short time Mr. Jaffrey was laid aside from active work with inflammation of the eyes; but recovering, he was called to Holytown, and ordained in 1845. There, by his prayerfulness and faithfulness, his unwearying laboriousness and singular consistency of character, he was instrumental in doing much solid and enduring good. During his ministry he was favoured with times of rich, precious refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Failing health led him to resign his charge in May 1872. He magnanimously refused on retiring to receive any allowance from the Church funds, acknowledging that God in his providence had otherwise provided liberally for him. In Holytown he was greatly beloved by his people, and highly esteemed by his brethren in the Presbytery. In his native town—to which he returned, and in which he died—he threw himself heartily into every good work. He acted as an elder, and was a model one—visiting the sick and destitute, and encouraging all evangelistic efforts; he took a great interest in educational matters, and in savings-banks, and latterly in providing for the working-men a place to which they might resort for refreshments or amusements without being exposed to the temptation arising from intoxicants. Enoch-like, Mr. Jaffrey walked with God; David-like, he delighted in meditating on God’s law day and night; Cornelius-like, he was a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house. He has left a widow and daughter to mourn his absence.
REV. CHARLES JAMESON, PATHHEAD, FIFE
(Died February 1, 1870)
Author: Rev. D. Couper, Burntisland
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 2, 1870, p.104
Another of our standard-bearers has fallen, and that very suddenly, in the midst of his usefulness, and in the maturity of his powers. On Tuesday, February 1, Mr. Jameson, who had been ailing for a day or two, but not to such an extent as to alarm his friends, gently reclined his head upon his shoulder, drew two short breaths, and died. His death took place in the same apartment from which, a few years ago, his most intimate and honoured friend, the Rev. Adam Forman of Leven, was suddenly taken to his rest. Twice from the same spot, and within a brief space of time, the note of warning has sounded forth, “be ye also ready.”
Mr. Jameson was born at Kincardine-on-Forth. He prosecuted his studies in the University of Edinburgh, and after being licensed by the Presbytery of Dunblane, he laboured for a time as assistant to the Rev. Mr. Forman of Kirkintilloch, and as a missionary in the district of Strathbogie, in the heat of the ten years’ conflict. In the latter locality he had occasion to manifest the strength of his principles, and the firmness and decision of his character, by carrying on his work in the face of civil interdicts. Willing to suffer for the truth’s sake, he stood forth boldly, proclaiming the gospel message, and earning the reputation of a faithful witness for Christ. In 1840 he was ordained minister of the quoad sacra church of Pathhead, in the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy. In 1843, without the slightest hesitation, he threw in his lot with the Free Church of Scotland. The great body of his congregation followed him, and up to his death he continued to labour in the same sphere with unabated acceptance and with exemplary diligence.
The goodly presence of the man was in keeping with his mind and character. He had a vigorous intellect, a fine natural sagacity, and no mean acquaintance with human character and life. Combining personal integrity with firmness of principle, he was never disposed to tamper with the claims of truth; and neither chose crooked ways for himself nor had any liking for them in others. In his sentiments he was thoroughly evangelical. He had a firm grasp of the great truths of the gospel, and was accustomed to deal with them, not as abstractions, but as matters bearing on his own salvation and that of his fellow-men. While he rested his hope on the atonement of Jesus Christ, he was always careful to direct his hearers to the same sure foundation. Peculiar in style and manner as a preacher, he was withal urgent and impressive; and to the last he enjoyed the entire confidence and love of a numerous congregation, over whose affairs he presided with a tact and a kindliness that were productive of excellent results. To the private duties of the ministry and the religious instruction of the young he devoted himself with heartiness and zeal.
Mr. Jameson took a prominent and an effective part in presbytery business; and in matters bearing on the general welfare of the Church he was warmly and intelligently interested. His convictions were always manfully avowed, and his sagacity and information were often highly serviceable to his brethren.
By a large circle of private friends and acquaintances he cannot fail to be deeply mourned; for he was generous in his sympathies, warm in his attachments, and ever ready with his offices of kindness. None could cross his threshold without feeling that his presence contributed to theor happiness. An upright warm-hearted, Christian man, he died universally lamented.
Mr Jameson was in the sixty-third year of his age. He has left a widow and a numerous family, on whose behalf it is the prayer of many that there may rest on them the blessing of Him who is the Husband of the widow and the Father of the fatherless.
REV. ROBERT JOHNSTON, MADRAS
The Home and Foreign Record, May, 1853
It has pleased God to make another breach in the band of our devoted missionaries in India. The Rev. Robert Johnston of Madras, after a lingering illness, breathed his last at the house of Lady Foulis in Edinburgh, on Tuesday, the 22nd of March. His disease was consumption, which had been induced by his arduous labours, too long protracted, in India. As in health he had laboured with the zeal and devotion of the missionary, so in sickness he suffered with the patience and resignation of the Christian. He was willing to live, that he might labour for Christ; and willing to die, that he might be with Christ. His example in trouble was most edifying, his spirit most refreshing. Even amidst the weakness and exhaustion incident to his disease, it was a calm, joyful, blessed evening that closed the day of his labour. His Master was kind in giving him rest on earth. He was yet kinder in filling his heart with the assured hope of that more blessed “rest” that awaits God’s people above. The following facts relating to Mr Johnston’s early training and career in India, appeared in the Witness at the time of his death:—
Mr Johnston was born at Craigieburn Wood, in the parish of Moffat, in the year 1807. His mother died when he was a young boy, but expressed a wish that he should be a minister. He was educated at his native parish school, and also attended the Sabbath school, and other means of improvement. Amid these engagements, his friends tell us that “he had many thoughts about religion then, and from his youth, but his heart was not changed,”—he was what multitudes of our unthinking youth are,—”Without God and without hope,” amid all the compunctions which might come upon him. Subsequently to that period, Robert Johnston taught in various places, and at length became a student at the University of Edinburgh in the year 1827, having joined the Church of Scotland as a communicant, at Crawford, in the summer of that year. It will readily be believed that about that period his thoughts and feelings in regard to religion began to deepen; but it was when he entered the Divinity Hall, in 1831, that his mind became peculiarly exercised. He began to feel that the. great question which multitudes leave unsettled till they drop into eternity demanded adjustment; and the feelings thus awakened never entirely subsided. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in the year 1835,—became a home missionary at Wallacetown in July 1837,—and was eventually ordained as missionary to Madras on the 5th September 1838. On the 24th of January in the following year,. Mr Johnston reached that place, and forthwith gave himself, in connexion with his much loved friend and fellow-labourer, the Rev. John Anderson, to do the work of an evangelist there. How he laboured and prayed, and was honoured in that work, it would not be easy to tell. In seeking to train up a race of native preachers and teachers the mission at Madras has been singularly blessed. Mr Anderson, Mr Johnston, and their no less devoted colleague, the Rev. John Braidwood, who is now in this country in quest of recruited health, have been permitted to see not a few Hindus proclaiming the glad tidings of great joy, either from the pulpit or by their Christian, deportment. Of Mr Johnston, in particular, we may say that, from a list before us of those whom he was honoured to bring to the Saviour, we are enabled to see, in the bud at least, the blessedness of them that turn many to righteousness.
Amid his abundant labours, Mr Johnston’s health gave way; and so completely was he prostrated before he would consent to leave his sphere of duty in India that he had to be carried on board. That took place on the 22nd of February 1851, and since his arrival in this country, — amid much bodily weakness, —though the hope of his recovery was at one time cherished, he has done not a little for promoting the cause to which he was devoted, and in advancing which he may be said to have fallen.
The leading quality of Mr Johnston as a missionary is that which must lie at the foundation of all greatness and endurance in Christian attainment and Christian labour, whether at home or abroad, namely, love—love to Christ and love to the souls of men. Mr Johnston had good abilities; he had a well-trained mind; but it was love, and the sincere, deep, and simple piety, and the single-eyed, straightforward conduct which grew out of that love, that formed the charm of his life as a Christian, and that constituted his great strength as a missionary. Love never faileth. Talents will fail, enthusiasm will fail, health will fail; but love never faileth. It is love only that can lead to enduring and ever abounding labour in the midst of overwhelming difficulties, severe mortifications and disappointments, and heavy discouragements. Thus it was that Mr Johnston continued in his Master’s work with zeal and efforts unabated to the end. Health may give way in the wasting climate of India; enthusiasm and romance will be dissipated by the actual sight of the degradation and sordidness accompanying idolatry; talent may sink under the burden of ever recurring labour; fortitude may grow pale in the presence of overmastering difficulties; but love “never faileth.” She continues to hope, and to labour, and to conquer, whatever discouragements arise, whatever difficulties obstruct. Faith is great, hope is great; but the greatest of these is love. This was indicated in a very emphatic manner when our Lord said to Peter, immediately before he and the other apostles went forth on their work of evangelising the world, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” And when he answered, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” He said unto him the second time, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” And when Peter answered as before, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” He said unto him the third time, ” Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”
Let those who are to fill the place of our fallen missionaries—and we have lost two missionaries in less than three months—ponder the interview betwixt Christ and his apostle. To the man who comes offering himself to the service of Christ in India, Christ puts the same question, “Lovest thou me?”
REV. EBENEZER JOHNSTONE, PLEAN
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, March 1, 1864, p.474
This able and esteemed minister died at Bannockburn on the 3rd of February. In him the Church has lost another of that faithful band, who, at the period of the Disruption, resigned connection with the Establishment. Mr. Johnstone was born at Biggar in March 1796. He studied for the ministry of the Secession Church under the venerable Dr. Lawson of Selkirk; but having joined the Established Church in 1819, he attended the Divinity Hall in Edinburgh. He was assistant to the Rev. Dr. Martin of Kirkcaldy for above five years, from 1826 to 1831; and so highly were his labours appreciated by the congregation that they gave him a very handsome present when he left. Mr. Johnstone discharged the office of parish schoolmaster a West Calder, from 1833 to 1835, when he came to Plean as governor of Simpson’s Asylum. In the year 1839 he was ordained to the office of the ministry in the Quoad Sacra Chapel, which, through his own efforts and those of the late Dr. Bonar and other friends, was erected at Plean, parish of St. Ninians, in connection with the asylum. He continued to minister in this charge—being allowed to preach in the church after he came out at the Disruption—till about five or six years ago, when, having previously resigned his situation in the asylum, he was compelled to leave the church, which was claimed by the Establishment.
For some time after this he preached in the open air at Torwood to those who adhered to his ministry; but there being no room for another congregation in that thinly peopled district, and his health beginning to fail, he retired to Bannockburn, where he has lived with his niece ever since. He was, on first going there, enabled to render occasional assistance to his brethren in the presbytery; but for the last two years he has been almost entirely laid aside from public duty by disease of the heart, which has now proved fatal.
Those who knew Mr. Johnstone do not require to be told that he was a man of high Christian character, and very superior talents and attainments. He was endowed with a keen and penetrating intellect, which led him to take a clear and comprehensive view of every subject to which his attention was directed. He was an excellent scholar, and had a mind thoroughly furnished with deep, extensive, and varied reading. An able and accomplished theologian, he did not confine himself to professional studies, but delighted to expatiate over the whole field of general literature. As a critic, his powers were of a very high order; and from the specimens we have seen in the form of occasional articles for the periodical press, we have no hesitation in saying, that had he felt inclined for authorship, he would have taken a high place among the writers of the day. Any one associating with him could not fail to perceive that he was a man of rare and remarkable ability, who, partly from his own modest and retiring habits, and partly from the circumstances in which he was placed, did not do anything like justice to his talents. He possessed more than any man we ever knew a latent power of intellect and character, which, owing very much to a want of proper opportunity, was unfortunately not made available for the good of the Church.
Perhaps the most distinguished feature in Mr. Johnstone’s character, and that which secured the esteem and affection of those who knew him, was a transparent integrity, a sterling honesty in all he said and did. He was a man of high moral principle, and unswerving fidelity, on whom, in any emergency, one might always calculate with the utmost certainty. As a friend, he was exceedingly warm-hearted, constant, and devoted; and sure we are that many who enjoyed his friendship will have a mournful pleasure in recalling the lively humour and repartee in which he was wont to indulge when surrounded by a few of those with whom he was most intimate, and in whose society he felt quite at ease. In intercourse with his younger brethren he to the very last exhibited all the ardour and buoyancy of youth.
Mr. Johnstone was very careful in his preparation for the pulpit. His preaching was distinguished by the fulness and accuracy of his doctrinal views, the intellectual power which pervaded his discourses, and the vigour, accuracy, and literary polish of his style. It was quite a treat to one who could thoroughly understand and sympathize with the preacher and the preaching, to listen to some of his able and eloquent sermons. These were pregnant with the richest matter, logically arranged, elaborately composed, and delivered in his own graphic style.
He was very regular in his attendance at the meetings of the Presbytery, in whose proceedings he always took the deepest interest. And great was the love and esteem which his brethren cherished for him, because of the singular uprightness of his character, the soundness of his judgment, and the sagacious and forcible manner in which he delivered his opinion on the various topics which came under consideration. His loss will be sincerely mourned by all the members of the Presbytery of Stirling, and, indeed, by all who were privileged with his acquaintance.
As might have been expected from what has been said of his character, Mr. Johnstone’s piety was of the most genuine and unaffected kind. It was of the calm and reflective rather than the demonstrative type. He shrunk from making any display of his religious feelings, such as is natural to some; but these were not the less real and genuine on that account. His own religious experience was felt by him too sacred a thing to be spoken of on ordinary occasions. But those who enjoyed his confidence well knew that there was in his heart a deep, warm current of pious emotion, which at special times made itself manifest. He had thought much and profoundly on the subject of religion in its practical as well as speculative aspects, and, as the result of firm conviction and strong faith, he enjoyed a calm and settled peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. He evinced the most cheerful resignation to the hand of God in the malady which for some time past he knew would prove fatal; and it was apparent to all who saw him during the last few months, that he was fast ripening for heaven. In allusion to his approaching end, he expressed himself to the friend who writes this inadequate tribute to his memory, in these beautiful words: “I am waiting and watching, but not wearying.” He was thus very thoroughly prepared for the sudden call which in the end he received, and has now no doubt entered on the joy of his Lord. It will be long ere the fragrant memory which Mr. Johnstone has left behind him will be effaced from the minds of the many friends who knew and loved him dearly,
It may be added, that Mr. Johnstone was the brother of the Rev. Dr. Johnstone of Limekilns, who occupies so prominent a position in the United Presbyterian Church, and is, indeed, so favourably known throughout all the churches.
REV. JAMES JOLLY, WEST PORT
(Died 8th September, 1886)
Author: Rev. John Macpherson, Dundee
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1887, Biographical Notices, p.19
The late minister of West Port was born at Marykirk on the 8th of June 1845. In the following year his parents removed to Dundee, and in this town he was brought up.
In the autumn of 1860, while on a visit to his native place, he attended an evangelistic meeting conducted by Duncan Matheson, and was there awakened to a sense of his guilt and danger as a sinner. On the same evening, after a brief but severe struggle, he found peace with God, and began his Christian life, like many others at that period, by singing the opening verses of the fortieth psalm.
Though only fifteen years of age his new attitude was one of marked decision: he came clean out of the world, and in the full consecration of himself to Christ never afterwards seemed to take one faltering step. Entering into the fellowship of the Church at Hilltown, he threw himself with all his new-born zeal into Sabbath schcol and Home Mission work. His power was soon felt. His services were much appreciated; he became a favourite with his fellow-workers; he rose to be their leader. It was apparent to all that he possessed the ministerial gift, the truly divine faculty of being able clearly, interestingly, and impressively to set forth the truth of the gospel.
He entered Edinburgh University in 1864, and after the usual term of eight years’ study finished his course in theology at Glasgow. During his student life he laboured as missionary first in the North-east Coast Mission at Cullen, subsequently in Chalmers’ Church, Dundee, and also in connection with that famous cradle of churches in Glasgow, the Wynds, then under the charge of Mr. Riddell. In 1872, immediately after receiving licence from the Presbytery of Glasgow, he was ordained to the pastorate of Hillhead Church, whence, after a very brief ministry, he was translated to Edinburgh, and inducted as colleague and successor to the late lamented Mr. Tasker. The thirteen years that followed were one unbroken season of intense and joyful toil in all the varied departments of a territorial church.
The leading feature of his ministry was his power of application, his quiet but forceful industry. He laboured and did not faint. While he never lost sight of the main business, the saving of souls, he found time for a multitude of minor but not unimportant interests such as are usually crowded into a busy city pastorate, especially the pastorate of a territorial minister. As Convener of the Sabbath Alliance, in temperance work, in caring for the poor, and in connection with every useful branch of social reform, he was always ready to give the best effort of heart and hand. Not the least important of his many labours was the erection of a handsome church in the West Port. In the prosecution of his undertaking he visited America in the winter of 1883, where, by reciting the story of Dr. Chalmers’ first great experiment in territorial missions, he reached the hearts of patriotic Scotsmen and raised a large sum of money in aid of the building fund. The new edifice may be justly regarded as the visible monument of his untiring zeal and force of character.
Best of all, the blessing of God rested on his manifold labours. His ministry was divinely sealed in the conversion of many to Christ. Throughout his entire Christian course of six-and-twenty years he never lacked the priceless hire of souls. In Dundee, in Cullen, in Glasgow, in Edinburgh, it was given him both to sow and reap. His congregation in the metropolis, large at his settlement, continued to increase up to the close of his ministry; and no doubt there are among them, as well as elsewhere, not a few who will be his “crown of rejoicing” in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The end came to him early. His health failed last spring. A voyage up the Mediterranean and a brief sojourn in Italy did little to restore him. In autumn he spent some weeks in Arran, but increasing illness rendered necessary his return home. This journey proved to be in the best sense the way home. Resting by the way in the house of his brother-in-law at Langside, Glasgow, on the evening of 8th September he entered into the rest of them that sleep in Jesus.
In his last illness he was wholly resigned to the Divine will. Leaving the issue of his trouble with God, he would often say, “I am quite willing for either way.” Up to the very close his life-long habit of caring for others rather than for himself was strikingly manifest. His last thoughts were given to his congregation, some of his death-bed utterances being charged with loving care for his flock.
“I have not strength for farewell words,” he said a little before the end; “my life’s work must speak for me.” His life’s work was indeed the best dying testimony. To a divinity student who had come to bid him good-bye as he was leaving Arran he said, “Preach Christ straight out.” Shortly before he died, his breathing becoming laboured, he said, “O to be at home with Christ!” Having kissed his children and bidden them goodnight, he bade a good-night to earth and peacefully passed away. He was buried in the Grange Cemetery. The large concourse attending his funeral bore testimony to the high esteem in which he was held by men of every class, from the most eminent citizen to the waif from the West Port, whose uncovered head and downcast countenance as he looked on the mournful scene seemed to say, “I have lost my best friend.”
His character was one of even balance. Zeal and discretion were blended in harmonious proportions. In his religion he was always natural; there was no straining, no extreme. His good sense kept him ever on sound lines of speech and action. His warmly sympathetic spirit made every acquaintance a friend. The childlike transparency of his character disarmed criticism. His strong will carried him over great difficulties, and when even his steadfast purpose would have failed, a certain sweetness of disposition, combined with motives of crystal purity, cleared his way.” Praying and working “might have fitly supplied him with a motto, for the happy blending of the spiritual with the practical was at once the sum and substance of his ministry and the secret of its success.
His preaching, in style and tone earnest and winning, was in substance thoroughly evangelical. He knew nothing save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. For the main purpose of the ministry this he believed to be enough—this he found to be enough. He preached Christ “straight out.” The atoning death of Christ left out would have been to him as the heavens without the sun. The preaching of the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven he well knew to be the power of God for the salvation of sinners everywhere, whether in the city suburbs or in the city slums.
His ministerial influence was in the highest degree personal. Esteemed by the people as their faithful minister, he was loved even more as their friend. His kindness won every heart, his genial manner opened many a door. His work of house-to-house visitation was incessant and exhausting. In this way he succeeded in keeping together an immense congregation scattered over the whole city. It is feared indeed that his excessive labours in visiting had not a little to do with his premature break-down; but, be that as it may, it is certain he was enabled to crowd into his brief ministry the work of an ordinary lifetime. He was a real minister of the gospel. Born again in a revival, he carried in his soul throughout his course the spirit and power of life in Christ. On the very day of his conversion he was instrumental in leading a relative to the Saviour; and this art of winning souls, a gift of the Holy Spirit more to be coveted than eloquence and all culture, he never lost. His ministry consisted not merely in describing or commending the kingdom of God, but in extending it by increasing the number of its subjects; and he may be fairly classed with those who, having turned many to righteousness, “shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.”
In the death of Mr. Jolly the West Port congregation have sustained a grievous loss; and this event, it is needless to add, throws its deepest shadow around the widow and eight children of their lamented pastor.